Does Career Development Necessitate a Job Change?

My Grandfather worked his entire adult life running a cigar store which he received as a wedding present from Great-grandfather who was retiring.

By the time grandpa was ready to pass on the store, both of his children had PhDs, and little interest in running a cigar store.

My uncle launched a technology startup out of school which was acquired by a major hardware manufacturer, where he still works as a research scientist.

My father was a professor for 5 years, and worked for the next 30 years in two jobs, 20 of them with the same boss.

I have held several jobs, and among my peers, I am not alone.

The employment dynamic is changing.

Just a generation ago, people expected to work for one or two companies in a career. They viewed themselves as part of something bigger, a company, which in turn viewed them as part of a greater organism, not cogs in a machine. Getting fired was rare. Career development was a given. Your pension was safe.

Today’s employees expect to hold several jobs in their career, particularly early on. They expect to manage their own private pensions. They view employers as clients, expecting to manage their own career development.

Many argue that this point to a broader trend that will ultimately lead to a disintermediated economy with no employees, comprised solely of contractors as vendors to companies.

I have argued before that every private sector employee is a commissioned salesperson. You sell yourself during the interview process. If your client- the employer- makes a purchase, you have to deliver more value than your cost to retain your client. The appeal of employment is the “stability” of having a paycheck. That stability is an illusion, only as real as the value you add.

Big Consulting firms are uniquely good at providing career development opportunities. As management consultants move into industry, they are often most surprised by this change in culture.

So I posed the following question to poll my twitter followers and facebook friends:

Something I’ve been pondering: Do you expect career progression in your current job or do you expect to switch employers to attain it? #fb
— Noah Roth (@noahroth) March 12, 2012

Here are some of the responses (reprinted here anonymously, with no editing):

  • Advancement within job. However, I have been with companies where leaving was the only provided advancement option.
  • i expect career progression…however, i would leave if i wasn’t getting it
  • Okay, so my answer is no, I do not expect career progression in my current job.
  • Some people begin the process of changing employers & their current employer suddenly realizes their value & promotes as necessary
  • it’s both, sometimes you want progression in yoru place, other times you know it isn’t coming ever. open plan growth is only way
  • I would need to leave, but I’m also in my late 20s and work for a small business
  • switch , no question
I believe that employees prefer to get career development within their own companies, but are unafraid to transition to achieve it.
And I counsel my clients to provide it.
The cost of helping existing employees grow, is far lower than the cost of replacing them, without even attempting to quantify the value of institutional memory.
Next time, I’ll talk about how a candidate can evaluate a prospective company’s corporate culture in regards to career development.

One Response to Does Career Development Necessitate a Job Change?

  • Noah, you don’t have to approve this and you can delete it – no hard feelings. But this posting was too long. You should have said my dad had 2 jobs in 30 years and 20 of those years were with the same boss. Then go straight into the stuff about how to day is different. IMHO of course.

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